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Scott Johnson is Committed to Professionalism

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Columbia County manager Scott Johnson has had a wealth of experience.

Today, he can be found overseeing administration throughout the county or counseling the Board of Commissioners. This career path followed a crossroads Johnson experienced after 21 years as a law enforcement officer.

The idea of spending the next 20 years in a different sphere seemed particularly apt by that point. Johnson was the deputy director of training with the Georgia state patrol, a role that had him working in Forsyth, Ga. This meant a daily two-hour commute every morning and afternoon.

“The timing was right,” said Johnson. “For me, it probably would’ve been another 12 or 13 years in law enforcement before I could retire.”

Between seeing potential in an alternative path and yearning for a new position closer to home and his family, the Columbia County native saw fit to take the opportunity to go to Command College, a public administration program at Columbus State University.

MORE: Columbia County Teacher of the Year Believes in Building Relationships with Her Students

Johnson’s studies deepened his understanding of administration beyond what he had learned in his years in law enforcement, and he became more conscious of the breadth and nature of his prospects. Shortly after earning a master’s degree in public administration, he found a newspaper advertisement for an assistant county administrator position. The job was home in Columbia County and was asking for the degree he had just earned.

Johnson got the position and served as assistant county administrator for three years before the county administrator at the time, Steve Szablewski, retired. Johnson then took over the administrator role, which since then has been renamed county manager. He’s held that position ever since, working with the county for a total of 13 years.

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“It was a big punch,” said Johnson. “It was a nerve-wracking thing to completely leave what I knew, coming into not only a brand new job, but a brand new field. I really had to reinvent myself.”

Johnson’s efforts have proven his ability to adapt. On Oct. 26, he received the Pillars of Excellence Award from the Georgia City County Managers Association. The award recognizes local government administrators who have demonstrated exceptional commitment, leadership, professional development and ethical conduct.

“I was very humbled to get this award,” he said. “It’s not something that they give out lightly.”

Johnson describes it as the GCCMA’s equivalent to a hall of fame or lifetime achievement award, acknowledging government managers as well as local governments that are at the top of their game. He credits this achievement to the work of his staff in tandem with his own commitment to strive against being second best.

Johnson was able to carry over professional principles instilled during his tenure in law enforcement to adapt to public administration. He notes five core values he says that his profession abides by: professionalism, respect, integrity and dedication to excellence, spelling out the word “pride.”

“I think all those are things I brought with me from my law enforcement career. I do try to do my best for the citizens every day and I will really give it 110% to make sure that we’re not only getting the job done, but that we’re getting it done beyond what our citizens expect.”

Skyler Q. Andrews is a staff reporter covering Columbia County with The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected].

2 COMMENTS

  1. One has to admire a person who has the intelligence, self-discipline, and courage to successfully plan and implement a mid-life career change. Change is inevitable – embrace it, harness it, or be miserable.

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